Montessori education can seem very expensive, especially when you look at the tuition and fees for private Montessori schools. It can feel out of reach for a low-income family to provide a Montessori education for their kids, but it may not be as expensive as you think.
Montessori is not only for rich families, it is for all income levels. However, most Montessori schools have high tuition costs. Montessori as a method of education cannot be exclusively reserved for any one group. Children can learn through the Montessori Method at home for free.
If you want to give your child a Montessori education, there is almost certainly an option that will work for you and your family, even if you are on a strict budget.
Public Montessori Schools
Private is the most common kind of Montessori school, but public Montessori schools do exist. In fact, the first Montessori school run by Dr. Maria Montessori was a public school. The American Montessori Society shows that 10% of all the Montessori schools in the United States are public.
The public school will still have all of the key components to Montessori education that private schools have. The schools have Montessori certified teachers, use Montessori materials in multiage classrooms, and implement Montessori practices including uninterrupted work periods and child-directed work.
As a public school, they will have to meet certain government-mandated requirements and follow state regulations. Depending on your preferences, this may be an advantage to a disadvantage of choosing a public Montessori school. Standardized testing, report cards, and yearly progress documentation are required in any public school.
You are likely already paying the taxes that fund the public schools in your area, so it makes sense to take advantage of the opportunity to send your child to school for free.
There are public Montessori schools in all 50 states, and more schools are being established periodically. Montessori education is gaining recognition and the increased demand for schools means that more options are becoming available.
You can use the Montessori Census to help you find a public Montessori school near you.
Are There Free Montessori Schools?
Although most Montessori schools charge tuition, there are a few free Montessori schools. One of the most well-known free Montessori schools is Bezos Academy.
Bezos Academy is a Montessori-inspired preschool program for underserved areas. It is not a public school, but it is completely free to those who apply and are admitted. Children ages 3-5 can attend the Bezos Academy preschool five days a week, year-round.
Their goal is to provide preschool education in underserved areas. Bezos academy is currently only available in Florida, Texas, and Washington State. Before a child can attend this academy, an application must be filed.
There is an income requirement to be eligible for application. Bezos academy only accepts students from families with a qualifying low income.
To select applicants, the Academy uses a lottery drawing system, so there is no guarantee that your child will be accepted into the program. There is preference given to children who are homeless or in foster care, as well as children who already have connections at the school through siblings attending or parents who work there.
Like other schools, Montessori programs are expanding their online options. There are online Montessori school programs available that your child can do from home.
Many of these programs will mail materials so your child can follow along with class activities. Different online programs may be more or less expensive depending on the length and frequency of classes, and if they are offering supplementary materials along with the classes.
Homeschooling is a great option because you have complete control over how much your child’s education costs. For those who have the time and ability, Montessori homeschooling is an incredible way to practice Montessori methods.
While Montessori is a method of education, it could also be considered a way of life. There are plenty of great resources and blogs that can help you facilitate Montessori-inspired learning in your home, even if you are not a certified teacher.
Even if your child can attend a Montessori school during the day, applying Montessori methods to their time at home is very beneficial. No matter where your child is getting their education, you can always supplement it at home.
In the scenario where you cannot find a Montessori program to fit your child’s needs, and you can’t do full-time homeschool, implementing Montessori practices whenever you can at home will help you give your child the education that you believe to best for them.
When you are researching activities and products to use as part of your home school, you may find that the “Montessori” labeled products will run pretty high prices. There is no certain toy, material, or furniture that is absolutely necessary to a fulfilling Montessori education. Branded materials can be helpful, but Montessori is based on philosophies, not items.
There are many cheaper items that are similar to Montessori materials that will teach your child in the same way.
Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs
Some families may find that private Montessori schools are their best option due to proximity and parent availability. Tuition rates can run pretty high at most private schools.
However, there is a good chance that your local private Montessori school may have financial aid or scholarship programs. Looking into payment plans and financial aid may allow your child to attend the private school without breaking your budget.
Since the schools are private, each will have its own policies and funding for financial aid. If there is a private Montessori school you are interested in, ask them about their financial aid or scholarship program opportunities. Many schools will offer assistance to people in certain income brackets.
Related: Are Montessori Schools Worth the Cost?
There are also resources outside of the school that may help make private education more affordable. Some states have school voucher programs or education savings accounts that give you money to help fund private education because the state is not paying to educate your child in public school.
Some states will also offer tax credits and deductions to families with children in private schools. Look into your state’s policies surrounding education to see if you would potentially qualify for education funds.
If you are seeking out a Montessori education for your child because they have special needs and need a certain educational environment to help them learn and thrive, their IEP may qualify you for tuition coverage. If the local public school cannot meet the needs of your child, the IEP team may decide to send your child to a private school free of charge.